I’m fortunate to be working down the road from two bakeries. I’ve already written about Le Croissant, and today I’m adding Cocoabeans Bakeshop. Cocoabeans is a bakeshop with a small café that focuses on gluten free baking.
*If you visit after reading this, tell them “Buttertart Donald” sent you.
One question that interests me as both priest and food lover, is how do we encourage people to eat together when diets make this increasingly difficult? Do we simply encourage everyone to bring their own food? Do we leave those with restrictions to their diet on the outside? Should we learn to put our own desires to the side more often? Should we learn more about the eating habits of others?
The last question is the one visiting Cocoabeans helps me to answer. I have no gluten issues. However, several people in the parishes I work with, do. So, I want to find out a little more about gluten free food. Purchasing from a gluten free shop is one way to do so.
Cocoabeans Retail Products
In addition to operating as a bakery/coffee shop, Cocoabeans also carries a selection of gluten free products. I’ve tried a couple of these already. The first I tried was a bouillon cube called Not Beef. I used this in a pork stew. I found it gave a rich, meaty flavour to the stew. I also tried the Floating Leaf pancake mix for our Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at St. Philip’s. This product gave pancakes, that while not as fluffy as some, turned out quite nice.
Cocoabeans also has a limited lunch menu, along with several baked treats that one can enjoy with coffee. The menu consists of two salads and two sandwiches. I had the coconut chicken. This is a chicken salad served on their own Amaranth bread. At $6.99 this is comparable to sandwiches at most cafés and comes with a good helping of the chicken salad. One thing that people who are gluten free tell me is that gluten free baked goods have a tendency to be dry. Not so with the Amaranth bread. It is as moist and chewy. The added touch of cranberries to the chicken salad gives it a sweet touch that sets it apart from the ordinary.
There are a variety of baked goods available. I decided to try the 5″ Apple Pie. At $5.00 this item is a steal. It could easily be shared between two people of reasonably healthy appetites. The crust is made from brown and sweet rice flour. There is a light dusting of sugar on top which gives it a nice crisp feel and taste. Generally the texture is similar to Pate Sablé. The filling is full of apples, with just the right amount of sweetness.
The coffee is my one disappointment. It is $3.50 for a 12oz Americano. This makes it about 30% more expensive than places such as Parlour or Café Postal. If you aren’t offering a premium coffee experience, you probably shouldn’t charge a premium price.
Still, if you have friends who are gluten free, or want to try gluten free food yourself, make a trip to Cocoabeans. The prices are generally quite good. The products themselves are high quality. Maybe it will inspire you to try making your own gluten free products.